Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: Hello, Strangers

Hello, and yes I do still live here. It’s been so long since I blogged and I miss you all dearly, like Katniss* missed her impoverished district while inside the arena. Only you’re a lot nicer and funnier than that dystopian landscape and also your hair looks very pretty today.

Okay, so I’m back and jumping into What’s Up Wednesday again. If you’re unfamiliar with the idea, here’s the deal: What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk for like-minded writers to meet and encourage one another. Everything you ever wanted to know about it (now, 50 percent off the retail price!) is right here.

Yesterday was a glorious day for books. I pretty much want to call in sick for the rest of the week and do nothing but read and read and read. Also, eat. But I’m a 21st-century woman. I can do both if I want to. I haven’t started all of these, but here’s what’s on my radar:


But I hate leaving you without a good book recommendation, so here it goes. The reason I’m psyched to read Ashes to Ashes is because I gobbled up the first two books in Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian’s series, Burn for Burn and Fire With Fire. I held off reading these for a long time, but the first book is available for free on Pulse It (for the time being), and I’m so glad I gave it a try.

The books are compulsively readable and hard not to speed through. There’s a hint of the paranormal that threw me a bit in this otherwise contemporary setting, but it kind of works. What I read for, though, is the revenge. The three main characters—they take turns narrating—are determined and sometimes unlikable, but I have to admire how they stand up for themselves. I can’t wait to see where the third book takes the story, especially since the girl I only mildly disliked in books one and two is now someone I can’t stand.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a writer drafting her first chapter must be in want of a knife. With which to end her misery.

Okay, I’m being dramatic, but for me writing chapter one is a lot like taking a sharp knife to my inessential organs (are there inessential organs? This I do not know) and reveling in the pain without ever passing out. It’s like yanking hairs from my head, one by one by one.

Basically, writing chapter one is torture for me, and I can’t make it stop. I can’t start anyone but chapter one—oh how I’ve tried to fool myself!—and I can’t get going until that first chapter is both written and pristine. I can more or less turn off my inner editor while writing the rest of my first draft, but not for that horrible, no-good, terrible chapter one. So I write and delete and repeat that process about seventy gazillion times.

That was me, the past two weeks. I have nine chapter ones saved in Scrivener. All suck but one. That one—on man, that one—I want to, I don’t know, buy it a beer or something. Because that chapter is the one. Will I change it during revisions? Yes. But it’s good enough that I can move on.

Here’s a quick, unedited excerpt that’s still not entirely right but at the moment right enough:
She spoke it aloud now, in the solitude of the cove. Her boots dug into the mossy ground and her head tilted to the sky and her teeth trapped the word at its end so she hissed like a snake. An unrestrained, unladylike laugh burst from deep in Asta’s belly. “Notorious,” she said again and again and it sounded a lot like “freedom.”

“Requiem for a Tower” from London Music Works puts me right into my fantasy story. It’s beautiful and epic and tense.

And while I can’t write to music with words, Phildel’s “The Wolf” has helped me get in the right mood before writing. 

I bought a house. Yes, that happened. It doesn’t seem real, but it’s true. I am officially an adult. It’s actually the same condo we’ve been renting for the past two years, but now the bills come to us.

I truly love this place, though. It has soaring ceilings and old wood beams. It has windows twice as tall as me and exposed brick that I absolutely love. During the Industrial Revolution it housed giant looms and dozens of girls working in the textile factory. There’s a museum two floors below, which The Man still hasn’t visited and which I haven’t been to since my fifth grade field trip to the mills.

It’s all very strange, knowing I own this place. But I love it and, if I’m being completely honest, I love that the process of buying a house is over. Also, not having to move all of our junk into a new place seriously rocks.

What have you been up to?

* Speaking of Katniss, did you all see the trailer for part one of the Mockingjay movie? It is as fantastic as I expected.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ready, Set, Write: Kinda, Sorta Hitting Goals

Here’s the deal: Ready, Set, Write! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability. Plus, it provides an opportunity for writers to cheer each other on—whether they’re planning, drafting, revising, and/or polishing a story. The event is hosted by Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and Katy Upperman.

When I say “last week,” I mean “the last time I participated in RSW, which may or may not have been a week ago.” As of my last blog post, my goal was to start querying my sci-fi mystery WIP and world-build my fantasy WIP. Check and check.

Sort of.

I started querying, but only sent out two before I heard about Pitch Wars. I decided to give that a go, and am currently crossing my fingers my MS gets picked up. If not, it’s to the query trenches for me.

I’ve also been working my fantasy story, which is like nothing I’ve ever written before. I’m still a little totally and completely intimidated by creating an entirely new world, but it’s fun!

Finish world-building this fantasy WIP idea. For reals this time.

I haven’t begun writing the story yet, but as I was plotting, a scene came to me without warning. It’s between the two POV characters: a princess whose alter ego is the kingdom’s most fearsome thief and her personal guard, a knight also tasked by the king to find the thief and kill him. Here’s a piece of dialog from a scene late in the book, after the princess’ identity has been revealed.
“I admired you,” Galinn said. “I told myself that if I were to ever come upon this Black Thief, I’d ask him his secrets before I slit his throat.” 
Asta leaned in, the soft planes of her face made harsh in the flickering firelight. “And I told myself that if I happened upon my pursuer, I’d slit his throat and ask questions later.” 
This week my wrists were a bit sore, so I didn’t get as much done as I would have liked. And, I’ll be honest, work pretty much screeched to a halt as soon as I got my hands on Isla and the Happily Ever After, which I’ll review in another post. (Spoiler alert: I loved it.)

I love the idea of hidden identities. There’s a bit of a Mr. and Mrs. Smith thing going on between two of my POV characters, and I love the keeping of secrets and the big reveal. 

How’s your planning/writing/revising going?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Ready, Set ... Query!

Here’s the deal: Ready, Set, Write! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability. Plus, it provides an opportunity for writers to cheer each other on—whether they’re planning, drafting, revising, and/or polishing a story. The event is hosted by Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and Katy Upperman.

I finally—finally—met my goals. It’s about time, right? As of today, my YA sci-fi mystery is finished. My query is polished. My agent list is updated. And my self-confidence is prepared for a major bruising. All is right with the world.

I really only have two goals this week:

  • Commence the query process. (And the alcoholism I plan to take up during it.)
  • Continue the world-build on my fantasy WIP, which I put on hold while polishing my YA sci-fi mystery. 

My main character grew up in a sort of extended family made up of her father’s friends. In this final revision, I was fleshing out some of those side characters. This excerpt is part of a memory that I hope gets at the family dynamic:
We were waiting for a table at a busy Mexican restaurant when Reed made the grab. It was more of a pat, actually, but it didn’t matter. A loud voice boomed from behind us, “Nick, I believe that young miscreant just squeezed your daughter’s breast.” 
As always, doubt is my greatest enemy. I doubt my abilities in achieving what I need to during a revision. I doubt whether I should be revising a scene at all. Whether I should be revising it differently.

And as for compiling a list of agents to query, well, that’s like feasting on doubt pudding with little chocolate chips of uncertainty throughout. Do I query these agents first—or these? Is a more established agent with a large client list better than a less-experienced agent who will have more time for me? I’m pretty sure I spent an hour an a half fully insane during the process.

That it’s finished. Just kidding. (Mostly.)

I love the ending. The ending to this book came with the idea, and I’m happy I stuck with it through drafting and editing. It’s part of what made me love the premise in the first place.

How’s your planning/writing/revising going?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

New Alloy Imprint and a Giveaway

Hello, friends. So today I have some pretty cool news to share with you, a few great books to add to your ever-expanding to-be-read piles, and a giveaway, which is what I suspect drew you to my blog in the first place. But to explain all this, I’m going to hand the mic over to my fellow Bookanista, another Tracy—one whose parents didn’t torture her by adding an “e” to her name, thereby making it impossible for anyone to remember how it’s spelled.


Hello! My name is Tracy and I am so excited to be here today, celebrating with my blogger buddies! WHAT are we celebrating, you ask? Well, today marks the launch of a very exciting, special new program. Alloy Entertainment (of Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants fame) has partnered with Amazon to create a new imprint! As a “Powered By Amazon” imprint, it will be exclusively distributed by Amazon. Here’s more info from the official press release:
Today, Amazon Publishing and Alloy Entertainment, a division of Warner Bros. Television Group, announced a digital-first imprint that will focus on young adult, new adult and commercial fiction. The new imprint, named Alloy Entertainment, will be part of Amazon Publishing’s Powered by Amazon program. Powered by Amazon enables publishers and authors to leverage Amazon’s global distribution and personalized, targeted marketing reach.
I am super super proud to share that my previously self-published novel, Shattered Veil, is one of the inaugural books in this program! It has been retitled Rebel Wing, given a new cover (check out the beauty below!), fully edited, and I am so, SO excited to share it with you today! In addition, two other books are part of the launch, and they are AWESOME. Read on for more info and purchase links for Every Ugly Word by Aimee L. Salter and Imitation by Heather Hildenbrand.

YA Scifi Adventure

“I've never been actively jealous of a fictional character . . . until now. Aris’s adventures set my imagination on fire, and made my heart take flight.” ~Kass Morgan, author of New York Times bestseller The 100

The Dominion of Atalanta is at war. But for eighteen-year-old Aris, the fighting is nothing more than a distant nightmare, something she watches on news vids from the safety of her idyllic seaside town. Then her boyfriend, Calix, is drafted into the Military, and the nightmare becomes a dangerous reality.
Left behind, Aris has nothing to fill her days. Even flying her wingjet—the thing she loves most, aside from Calix—feels meaningless without him by her side. So when she’s recruited to be a pilot for an elite search-and-rescue unit, she leaps at the chance, hoping she’ll be stationed near Calix. But there’s a catch: She must disguise herself as a man named Aristos. There are no women in the Atalantan Military, and there never will be.

Aris gives up everything to find Calix: her home. Her family. Even her identity. But as the war rages on, Aris discovers she’s fighting for much more than her relationship. With each injured person she rescues and each violent battle she survives, Aris is becoming a true soldier—and the best flyer in the Atalantan Military. She’s determined to save her Dominion . . . or die trying.

About Me
Award-winning author, Army wife, and mom Tracy Banghart has an MA in Publishing and an unhealthy affection for cupcakes. Her quiet childhood led to a reading addiction, writing obsession, and several serious book boyfriends. Rebel Wing is her third novel. She can be found at

When seventeen-year-old Ashley Watson walks through the halls of her high school, bullies taunt and shove her. She can’t go a day without fighting with her mother. And no matter how hard she tries, she can’t make her best friend, Matt, fall in love with her. But Ashley also has something no one else does: a literal glimpse into the future. When Ashley looks into the mirror, she can see her twenty-three-year-old self.

Her older self has been through it all already—she endured the bullying, survived the heartbreak, and heard every ugly word her classmates threw at her. But her older self is also keeping a dark secret: Something terrible is about to happen to Ashley. Something that will change her life forever. Something even her older self is powerless to stop.

Perfect for fans of Thirteen Reasons Why and The List, Every Ugly Word is a gripping and emotional story about the devastating consequences of bullying.

About Aimee
Aimee L. Salter lives in Southern Oregon with her husband and son. She writes novels for teens and the occasional adult who, like herself, is still in touch with their inner-high schooler. She never stopped appreciating those moments in the dark when you say what you’re really thinking. And she’ll always ask you about the things you wish she wouldn’t. Aimee blogs for both writers and readers at You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. Every Ugly Word is her debut novel.

Everyone is exactly like me. There is no one like me.

Ven wrestles with these contradicting truths every day. A clone of wealthy 18-year-old Raven Rogen, Ven knows everything about the girl she was created to serve: the clothes she wears, the boys she loves, the friends she loves to hate. Yet she’s never met the Authentic Raven face-to-face. Imitations like Ven only get to leave the lab when they’re needed—to replace a dead Authentic, donate an organ, or complete a specific mission. And Raven has never needed Ven . . . until now.

When there is an attack on Raven’s life, Ven is thrust into the real world, posing as Raven to draw out the people who tried to harm her. But as Ven dives deeper into Raven’s world, she begins to question everything she was ever told. She exists for Raven, but is she prepared to sacrifice herself for a girl she’s never met?

Fans of Cinder, The Selection, and Sara Shepard’s Lying Game series will love Imitation, a thrilling, action-packed novel sure to keep readers guessing until the very last page.

About Heather
Heather Hildenbrand was born and raised in a small town in northern Virginia where she was homeschooled through high school. She now lives in coastal VA, a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean, with her two adorable children. She works from home, part time, as a property manager and when she's not furiously pounding at the keyboard, or staring off into space whilst plotting a new story, she's lying on the beach, soaking in those delicious, pre-cancerous rays. Heather loves Mexican food, hates socks with sandals, and if her house was on fire, the one thing she'd grab is her DVR player. You can find out more about her and her books at

Heather is a co-founder of Accendo Press, a publishing group she operates with fellow authors Angeline Kace and Jennifer Sommersby. Accendo (a-CH-endo), A Latin word, means “to kindle, illuminate, inflame, or set fire.” This is something Accendo strives to do inside a reader’s imagination with every title released.

Thanks so much to my wonderful bloggers friends who are helping me spread the word! And don’t forget to enter the giveaway below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway